The founder of the family was Hugh Williams, D.D. (1596 - 1670), rector of Llantrisant and Llanrhyddlad, Anglesey, and second son of William Williams of Chwaen Isaf, Llantrisant. Hugh's eldest son Sir William Williams (1634 - 1700), gained distinction as a lawyer; he was speaker of the House of Commons, 1680-1, appointed Solicitor-General in 1687, knighted the same year, and created a baronet in 1688. In 1675 he bought the Llanforda estate, Oswestry, from the last of the Lloyd family; he died 11 July 1700. His son,
m. Jane, daughter and heiress of Edward Thelwall of Plas-y-ward and great-granddaughter of the famous Sir John Wynn of Gwydir; he was sheriff of Montgomery-shire, 1705, and of Merioneth, 1706, and was Member of Parliament for Denbighshire, 1708-10.
The eldest son of this marriage was Sir WATKIN WILLIAMS (WYNN) (died 1749) who, in 1740, inherited not only his father's title and estates but also, through his mother, the estate of Wynnstay, which had passed into the possession of Sir John Wynn (died 1718/9), the last baronet of the direct Gwydir line, through his marriage with the heiress of Eyton Evans of Watstay (the old name of the mansion and the estate). After his succession to this estate Sir Watkin Williams adopted ‘Wynn’ as an additional surname. He was Member of Parliament for Denbighshire, 1716-41; in the 1741 election he lost the seat through a trick played by the high sheriff, although he had, in fact, fairly beaten his opponent, John Myddelton of Chirk castle; but this was put right in July 1742, and from that time until his dying day he continued to represent the county in Parliament, where he took an active part in the debates. There, too, Sir Watkin came to the fore as one of the chief supporters of the Stuart cause in 1745; while at home he was the leader of the ‘Circle of the White Rose’ — the Jacobite club started by him about 1723, which used to meet regularly at Wynnstay and other houses in the Wrexham district. But how much practical help he gave the Stuarts is still a secret. It is alleged that he wrote to prince Charles, promising to raise his part of the country on the prince's behalf and that he continued to correspond with him after the failure of the ‘45; however, nothing was proved against him and the government brought no accusation against him. On the other hand, there is no lack of evidence to show that Sir Watkin hated the Methodists; Peter Williams and others experienced fierce persecution at his hands and great was their rejoicing when he died suddenly, 26 September 1749, as a result of a fall from his horse while hunting. Sir Watkin had added extensively to the Wynnstay estate by his marriage with Ann, daughter and heiress of Edward Vaughan of Llwydiarth and Llangedwyn.
He was succeeded by Sir WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN II (1749 - 1789), the eldest son of his second marriage, to Frances, daughter of George Shackerley of Hulme, Ches. Like his father, the second Sir Watkin was Member of Parliament for Denbighshire, 1774-89, and in 1775 was made Custos Rotulorum and lord-lieutenant of Merioneth. But he is chiefly remembered as a patron of the fine arts; he could boast of his friendship with people like Sir Joshua Reynolds, the artist, and David Garrick, the actor. He contributed generously to the Welsh school in London and started two schools of his own in the parish of Ruabon; he was the second ‘Chief President’ of the Cymmrodorion Society (Cymm., 1951, 56-7). In the course of his childhood, his mother added to the extent of the Wynnstay property by purchasing on his behalf, in 1752, the Mathafarn estate, including the manor of Cyfeiliog, and the Rhiwsaeson estate. Sir Watkin's first wife, Henrietta Somerset, d. shortly after the marriage, and he took as his second wife Charlotte, daughter of the right hon. George Grenville, by whom he had three sons and two daughters.
When his father d. in July 1789, the eldest son and heir, Sir WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN III (1772 - 1840), was a boy of 17. He was Member of Parliament for Beaumaris, 1794-6, and for Denbighshire, 1796-1840; he was also lord-lieutenant of Merioneth and Denbighshire. But he was more interested in military matters than in politics. In 1794 he raised a cavalry regiment — ‘The Ancient British Fencibles’ — and took part in the suppression of the Irish rebellion, 1798. He married Henrietta Antonia Clive, eldest daughter of Edward, first earl Powis; and d. 6 January 1840. He was president of the second Cymmrodorion Society from 1820 until his death.
With regard to the two brothers of the 3rd Sir Watkin : the elder, CHARLES WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN (1775 - 1850), had a distinguished political career. He was Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire, 1799-1850, under-secretary to the home office, 1806-7, and secretary of state for war in lord Grey's ministry, 1830-1. There is an article on his daughter, Charlotte, in the D.N.B. His other brother, Sir HENRY WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN (1783 - -1856), elected to go to the foreign office and was, in turn, ambassador in Saxony, Switzerland, and Copenhagen.
Published date: 1959
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